Asia Faces AIDS Explosion Unless Authorities Step Up Fight, Experts Say
The HIV/AIDS epidemic could explode across Asia -- where one in four new infections worldwide occur -- unless authorities do more to fight the disease, experts said ahead of the 7th International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific, scheduled to be held in Kobe, Japan, from July 1-5, Reuters reports. "If nothing is done, some 10 million people in China could be infected by 2010," Takashi Sawada, a Japanese physician working with nongovernmental organizations on HIV/AIDS prevention in Thailand and Cambodia, said. In India, the number of HIV cases could quadruple by 2010 and AIDS-related illnesses would become the leading cause of death, experts said. Japan also could face a serious HIV/AIDS epidemic within 10 years, experts said. Asia's situation is exacerbated by the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS and politicians' reluctance to talk about the disease, according to Reuters. "Politics really gets in the way," Sawada said, adding, "In particular, there aren't big efforts being made to work on women's rights and the rights of minorities" (Lies, Reuters, 6/28). UNAIDS is scheduled to release a report on HIV/AIDS in the Asia-Pacific region on July 1, in advance of the conference. The report will provide an assessment of the epidemic in the region, an update on the HIV/AIDS response and recommendations for ways to curb the spread of the virus in the region, according to a UNAIDS release. About 3,000 participants from more than 60 countries -- including HIV-positive people, community advocates, health workers, and government and international agency representatives -- will attend the conference (UNAIDS release, 6/27).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.